For those who don’t already know me, I am an Atheist. To some people, that word invokes a lot of negative emotions. I find that this is usually because it is so contrary to their own personal belief system that they have difficulty understanding and accepting it. While, I identify as an atheist, I consider myself a Secular Humanist.
What is the difference?
Atheism is the lack of belief in a Supreme Being or a deity. It explains what I do NOT believe; however, it doesn’t really address a person’s life stance/world view. A life stance is an amalgamation of an individual’s life philosophy, ethics, values, and principles.
Secular Humanism is my life stance. It’s not a “worship” of humans or humanity, but rather a focus on the human experience and world citizenship. It’s emphasis is on “our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.”
Not all Humanists are Atheists. There are Religious Humanists, who combine the principles of humanism with religious dogma. Many Secular Humanists are not anti-religious; just non-religious.
Reason, Compassion, and Hope
One of the key ideas behind of humanism is that hope for the future of humanity rests on human accomplishments, which should be guided by the unique human capacity for reason and compassion. We believe people can work together towards building a happy, just, and peaceful world. The Humanist celebration “HumanLight” is even dedicated toward remembering these three key things!
One of the great things about being a Secular Humanist is the focus on this one life. Since we don’t believe in an afterlife, all of our focus is on this world, this life, and the legacy we leave behind for future generations of humanity.
For many people, there is a misguided idea that with no promise of a heaven or threat of a hell, non-believers are more likely to be immoral; however, Humanism places a lot of importance on personal responsibility, ethics, and empathy. Most Humanists feel that all individuals have a duty to promote (through reason and compassion) the wellbeing of the world.
If you only live once (YOLO), it makes it that much more important to live an altruistic and mindful existence.
5 Common Questions
- Aren’t you afraid that if you are wrong (and there is a God), that you will be punished? No. First, you can’t be afraid of something if you truly don’t believe in it. Second, If there was a God who did not value me for trying to live a good life as a good person, then I would not want to be associated with him/her.
- What do you turn to for comfort in times of need? Myself or other people. People are compassionate and strong. They work together every day to create a world bigger and better than they could ever make alone. We can find that strength and comfort within ourselves and the people around us.
- Would you support your children if they decided to not be atheists? As long as they are respectful and compassionate towards themselves, other people, and the world, I will respect their decision because it is theirs to make.
- Are you absolutely sure there is no God? If not, then is it not possible that there is a God? Of course there’s a possibility. There’s also a possibility that fairies, angels, unicorns, and the loch ness monster are real. If I ever find proof that any of them exist, I will revise my beliefs accordingly.
- Why are Atheists so against prayer in school? We aren’t. If you want to bow your head and say a prayer before you eat or take a test…go for it. What I, and many other non-Christians have an issue with is required prayer. Making prayer an official part of the school day is coercive and invasive. Our public schools are for all children, whether Catholic, Baptist, Quaker, atheist, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, etc. The schools are supported by all taxpayers, and therefore should be free of religious observances and coercion.